Sunday, 7 March 2010

What do I Send in a Screenplay Submission Package?

Completing a full length screenplay is not the end of the matter. Most film agents insist upon a submission package, which will often include a synopsis of the film, the film treatment, a tag line and even a rundown of a character list. How does the scriptwriter put together a good submission package that will help the chances of the screenplay of being read?

How to Submit Screenplay to the Film Agent

The following items will often be required by various film agents to some degree, as part of whole of the submission package:
  • A covering letter, including the writer’s contact details
  • A tagline to the movie. A one-sentence summary of what the film is about. Since this is often 25 words long or less, every word counts and is difficult to do
  • Film synopsis. This is plot summary of the film, told in around 250 words, and covering one side of an A4 sheet of paper. It will include the key scenes, a brief description of the characters as they arrive within the story and the conclusion
  • A film treatment. A more indepth description of the film’s events, in around 25 pages. It tells the story in fast forward
  • It is often helpful to have a character list. A cast list with a brief description of each character to help the reader in grasping the screenplay story
  • Personal statement. This is rarely required. This describes the writer’s reasons for writing the screenplay and what he or she hopes to achieve.
  • The screenplay itself
  • Return postage
The Screenplay Synopsis

Screenplay Submission
Perhaps the most important item of the list described is the synopsis. It is more often than not requested as part of the package. To summarise, the synopsis should:
  • Describe the film’s events in around 250 words or less
  • Be told in the present tense
  • Reveal the conclusion of the story
  • The storytelling and the narrative style must be compelling. Every word must count. Use one word rather than two and be sparing on descriptive words, clich├ęs and cut redundant words. The thesaurus is invaluable
  • No dialogue, slang or typos must be included
The Film Tagline

The one sentence summary is a useful tool for the screenwriter in selling the screenplay. The film agent is able to get a taste of what the screenplay is about at a glance and make an informed decision whether to read the synopsis or the full screenplay.

The Film Treatment

This is perhaps the most difficult part of the submission package, but is not always requested. The treatment is something between the synopsis and the screenplay. Around 25 words long, it tells the screenplay in fast forward, but will describe every scene in the story.

Other documents that might come in handy are a brief rundown of the character list, including a brief description of each, and a personal statement, which describes why the screenwriter wrote the screenplay and the message that was intended for the audience. Again, a personal statement is rarely requested, except in screenwriting competitions

The Full Length Screenplay

Not forgetting the main item, the screenplay itself. The screenplay must deliver what is promised within the synopsis and the tagline. It must dazzle the reader and offer something unique. Comprehensive advice on writing a screenplay, covering issues such as character development and plot conception can be found on my website on how to write screenplays.

Helpful Articles on Screenplay Writing

How to Format your screenplay for Kindle
Guide to editing the screenplay
Putting words into characters' mouths
The best words for your screenplay
Getting into paid screenwriting jobs


  1. Thank you! This was just what I was looking for.

  2. The turning point, the point of highest tension and drama where hero faces his foe in a final climactic battle. The information learned during the crisis is essential to beating this foe. Everything is converging here. The emphasis of the battle should be on whose ideas or values win out. Hero clearly wins and fulfills his goal and need… or not. climax buildup